Title: Fast Times at NAMBLA High: Part Fifteen
Author: Your’s truly
Fandom: The Daily Show... with a smattering of guest appearances.
Pairing: Including but not limited to:
Jon/Stephen, Stephen/Paul, Stephen/Craig Kilborn, Jon/Anderson Cooper, Paul/Amy, Rob/Frustration, Ed/Confusion, (Rob/Frustration)/(Ed/Confusion), Mo Rocca/Lewis Black, Sam/Jason, Demetri Martin/Nathan Corddry, Bob Novak/Hair nets, Aasif Mandvi/Tucker Carlson, Stone Phillips/Barbara Walters, Dan Bakkedahl/Rob Riggle, Dane Cook/His ego, Dave Gorman/John Oliver, Jerry Seinfeld/Steve Carell, Bill O’Reilly/Hatred, Keith Olbermann/Everyone, John Hodgeman/Bill Gates, Tucker/Craig, Aasif/Anderson, John Hodgman/Sarah Vowell, Will Ferrell/MOP?, Keith/Dennis Leary, George Clooney/Charm
Featured pairing(s): Nate/Demetri, Jon/Rob (friendship), Rob/Ed (implied)
Rating: PG-13 for language
Warning: Crack: it's what's for dinner. Other warnings: AU, drug use, underage drinking, het crap, and Will Ferrell being creepy. For this specific chapter? Meandering tones and a slight abuse of James Taylor. I love him, I swear!
A/N: Sorry this took forever. I had the first half all written out but then I kept getting interrupted, hence the ages it took. I leave for NYC on Friday so hopefully I'll be gathering some inspiration while I'm there! Really, I just want an excuse to obsess about New York again. Woo!
Feedback: Feedback helps my crack addiction. Give generously. Also, concrit is very welcome.
Chapter Four Point Five: An Interlude of sorts
Chapter Ten (A)
Chapter Ten (B)
Chapter Ten (C)
Chapter Ten (D)
It's like a high school fic that isn't lame and is all cracky and shit. Read it.
~An annonymous reader who I totally didn't make up.
READ THE STORY.
In this edition of FTANH: Demetri gets a history, Nate gets some balls (relatively speaking), Jon is chivalrous, and Rob is dramatic.
Demetri Martin was a very patient person.
He’d learned to be so over time, what with being taught the value of precision and persistence since he was a child; his mother had been integral in his education in the arts, learning the beauty in finely shading the portrait of a child’s face or of waiting for a photograph to dry, while his father had helped him learn how to be exact in his measurements and equations, seeing how any slight variation in his procedures could result in something else just as marvelous as what had been the desired result. Both parents had also taught him compassion… though he really hadn’t had that many people to practice it on.
Demetri hadn’t considered his childhood lonely. It had just been what it was… what with being sick all the time and being an only child, it was expected that he would pretty much solely spend time with his parents. It wasn’t a bad lot in life; his parents just happened to be very intelligent and interesting people, lucky for him. And he just happened to get along with them.
But he had to go at some point.
Mom hadn’t been thrilled with the proposition of Demetri entering the public school system. She was more of the opinion that government-run institutions were rife with corruption and deserved about as much credit as most big name corporations. His father had then been quick to mention that, unlike his mother who went to a private art school, he was a product of America’s school systems and therefore they couldn’t be all that bad. Mom had caved, albeit unwillingly, and Dad had given Demetri a private smile and a wink. The little bird was going to be allowed to fly from the nest at long last.
Of course, it wasn’t as if the boy hadn’t been allowed to go anywhere growing up. Unbeknownst to his parents, Demetri had often made treks off of their plot of land in the more rural part of town into the more populated area. This had always been under the guise of going hunting for specimens down by the creek or staring outside in the field, both activities that Demetri was known to do. He just happened to have more diverse interests than his parents were aware of.
He started out by just going to the barber shop on the outskirts of town. The man who ran it seemed amused by the young white boy’s presence as did the other elderly men who spent most of their day in the tiny place of business. This was one of the few places the extremely small black minority called their own but, rather than rejecting the boy’s curious gaze, they accepted him into their fold; often playing chess with him for hours on end. He would come back home, smelling of cigar smoke and covered in clippings of hair which somehow went unnoticed.
He soon became a sweeper in the store, earning a few cents from the grey-haired man from behind the counter who would chuckle at Demetri as he awkwardly cleaned up the bits of hair and smiled demurely at the clientele. No one asked him where he was from or why in the hell he decided to come there of all places. Demetri was glad for this since, really, he didn’t know the reason himself.
Eventually the old man died and the shop closed up. Demetri didn’t know where any of the other patrons went, most likely to an assortment of old folks’ residences and their children’s homes, so he moved on as well. He started getting up in the wee hours of the morning to help the produce man at the local grocery store sort out one fruit from another. The produce man was a hulking figure, though Demetri reasoned that at the time he had been young and therefore much smaller. He would reckon later that the man probably had had a mental disability due to his ranting at the fillings in his mouth put there by the CIA and asking Demetri who in the hell sent him. Demetri knew deep down that he was harmless enough though. That whole affair stopped once his parents caught him sneaking back in at eight in the morning, placing carrots in the refrigerator.
They never asked what he had been up to; they just requested that he stay indoors that early in the morning from then on.
He had gone on to do other things, holding odd jobs at places he drifted to. Soon, his mother caught on that he wanted to be outside of the house more often and began taking him to the high school in order to develop the film of the pictures he had been taking for so long. The photography teacher took a shining to him and let him virtually have run of the place at times. It was fine, the life he had, just floating through the motions of homeschooling, escaping to the outside world, and interacting with next to no one.
But Demetri decided to change that. Of course, being in high school hadn’t been that huge of a change, if he was to be honest with himself. He again merely floated, remaining largely invisible. That was the plan, really. That is… until he met Nate.
Nate, Demetri realized, was probably his largest challenge to date. Even harder than that possum he had nursed back to health after an eighteen wheeler hit it. Nate was volatile. Nate was, well… Nate.
And, as he did with all things, Demetri approached this new project with patience and confidence, even if he himself wasn’t 100% sure what his end goal was with the other boy. But they’d met for a reason and Demetri would just have to wait and see what happened.
Demetri was aware, of course, that he was attracted to Nate. But this failed to really disturb him in any way. Demetri tended to like people. He knew his feelings toward Nate were slightly different but why should that perplex him? It probably wasn’t of much consequence and Demetri figured if it wasn’t bothering him… why obsess about it? He’d come to terms earlier in life that sexuality wasn’t exactly a black and white affair for him so that wasn’t really an issue.
For Nate though… it definitely would be an issue, were he to ever decide that sexuality wasn’t black and white for him as well. It would be painful. It would take time. Luckily, if Demetri had anything, it was time. And, as Demetri was well aware, he was a patient person.
Nate and he were currently sitting outside under the bleachers, watching a pigeon pick at something that might have been a candy wrapper at one point. Demetri had been talking but, upon noticing Nate’s contemplative silence, followed suit and stared at the bird that the other boy was studying so intensely.
“Everything okay?” Demetri finally ventured once the bird had finally seemed to notice the two boys and taken off to escape what it probably saw as its eventual doom.
“Meh,” was Nate’s response as he shrugged, looking despondent as he tossed a piece of gravel across the pavement. “Just the same old issue.”
It had been a few weeks now since Nate had come to him with his problem, divulging in a way that honestly surprised Demetri. Since then, the two had gotten into the habit of sneaking out of or around the school after one of Rocca’s daily mishaps and having conversations in either Demetri’s darkroom or under the bleachers. It was a comforting regularity and Demetri appreciated it, though he knew half the time Nate completely ignored him as he prattled on about something or other. Demetri didn’t mind.
“How’s Rob doing?” he asked softly, watching as Nate threw yet another rock. Nate was such a boy… at least, more so than Demetri was. He found himself yet again marveling at the way the other boy huffed as he began to break apart a twig he found on the ground. Nate was incredibly expressive without trying to or using words. It was fascinating.
“Fuckall if I know,” Nate grumbled, decimating the twig into oblivion. “He still won’t come out of his room.”
“Hmm,” Demetri murmured in response, knowing that Nate really didn’t need much more than that. It was amazing to Demetri that the other boy hadn’t just exploded before now, seeing as he didn’t seem used to actually telling people what was going on in his head. Demetri had been raised to express himself freely at all junctures and he just couldn’t imagine how that kind of repression could be healthy.
Suddenly, Nate’s head perked up. “Dude…” he said under his breath, calling Demetri’s attention. Looking up as well, Demetri spotted an older boy lounging against one of the brick walls, smoking surreptitiously.
Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz. 17, making him one of the older juniors. He had moved from New Jersey due to family issues and was in the Newspaper club. He had a bit of an attitude problem that had landed him into trouble with Vice Principal Bill O’Reilly and had had a series of unfortunate run-ins with the janitor William Ferrell. He had thus far befriended Stephen Colbert who sporatically gave him rides.
Unbeknownst to Nate, Demetri also helped out at the school office, letting him gain access to information that most weren’t privy to. Especially since someone as innocuous looking as Demetri was able to get away with looking at almost everyone’s files without arousing any suspicion. Demetri was also awfully good at observing people without anyone noticing.
“That’s Jon,” Nate was murmuring next to him. “He saved my life the first week we were here.”
Well, that was a new one. “Saved your life?” Demetri asked, trying not to smile.
“Yeah, some dickwad almost hit me with his car,” Nate said flippantly, his eyes still fixed on Jon. “Apparently he’s friends with Rob.”
“Oh,” Demetri commented softly but Nate was now getting to his feet and striding purposefully towards the older boy. Shrugging, Demetri gracefully picked himself up and followed.
As they got closer, Jon twitched a little and tried to hide his cigarette until he seemed to realize the approaching figures weren’t anything close to authoritative. “Jon,” Nate said with false bravado, causing Demetri to raise his eyebrows and smile. “Uh, remember me? I’m…”
“Nate, right? Rob’s brother,” Jon answered, brow furrowed in confusion. He was probably wondering what two freshmen were doing out of class and, of all things, bothering him. Demetri just gave him a demure smile.
“Yeah, this is Demetri,” Nate said off-handedly, gesturing in Demetri’s direction.
“Hellooo,” Demetri murmured, waving with the fingers of one hand. A look of amusement passed over the older boy’s face as he offered a small smile in return.
“Uh, hi…” He stared at the two freshmen, obviously still trying to discern the reason behind their interaction. When Nate didn’t say anything but just sort of stared at the ground, Jon cleared his throat. “Um, do you guys want a cigarette?” he asked awkwardly.
“Sure,” Nate responded. Demetri quirked an eyebrow at him seeing as he was fairly sure that the other boy didn’t in fact smoke. Due to the way in which Nate uneasily stared at the cigarette once it was in his hand, he figured he was right.
“Demetri?” Jon asked once he had lit Nate’s.
“No, that’s alright,” the other boy answered, brushing his hair out of his line of sight. He saw Nate eye him sideways as he did the action, causing a pleasant warm feeling to fill the mousy-haired boy. He liked it when Nate looked at him that way.
Jon breathed in the smoke easily as Nate stood beside him, trying to subdue the choking noises coming out of his mouth. Demetri fought the smile coming to his face again. Sure, he knew how to smoke seeing as the old men at the barber shop had thought it hilarious to see the young boy sputter as he tried to smoke the cigars they gave him, but it had been a while and he wasn’t really interested in picking up the habit. To be honest, Nate was looking like he was damn near incapable of picking it up at all.
“Uh,” Nate finally ventured in a strained voice once the coughing had subsided. Jon had the good graces to ignore the younger boy’s lack of finesse. “Have you talked to Rob lately?”
Jon bit his lip and furrowed his brow again, exhaling a stream of smoke. “No,” he finally answered, looking contemplative. “I haven’t really seen him around anywhere, come to think of it. Is he okay?”
Nate exchanged a glance with Demetri. Just talk to him, Demetri urged silently. Maybe he’ll have some insight.
Heaving a sigh, Nate rubbed the back of his neck. “No,” he said honestly, though there was a bit of trepidation in his voice. “He, uh, he’s kind of been holed up in his room a lot lately…”
Jon cocked his head. “Seriously? Why?”
“Erm…” Nate coughed awkwardly into his fist. “I think he and, uh, Ed… had a fight. Or something.”
Jon fell silent and gave Nate a thoughtful look. “Really,” he said flatly. “What about?”
Nate’s eyes flicked to Demetri’s again. Tell him, Demetri tried to say with his eyes. Just say it.
“I… I think we both probably know what about,” Nate finally sighed in defeat. Jon’s face was blank as he considered the younger boy. “I’m not going to bullshit you,” Nate continued quietly, his ears beginning to tinge red. Demetri wondered what the other boy would do if he were to simply reach out and rub them. He’d probably run into that tree again. Demetri suppressed the smirk threatening to come across his face. “I mean… Rob doesn’t think I know anything… but I’m not retarded.”
Jon let out a puff of smoke through his nose before tossing the spent butt away and taking a deep breath. “And this has to do with me how…?”
Nate looked crestfallen, his eyes shooting to Demetri’s again before falling to the ground. “I was just wondering if he had said anything to you,” he said softly. “Or if you could… I don’t know…”
Sighing, Jon’s shoulders dropped. “Yeah, no, I know,” he finally said kindly. “And, uh… Rob has talked to me.” Nate’s head perked up and Demetri looked to him with renewed interest. “I mean, not about why he’s upset but about… you know…” He suddenly looked uncomfortable and scuffed his foot on the pavement.
“Wait… he actually talked to you about it?” Nate said in awe. “I didn’t think Rob…”
“Well, to be fair, he sort of talked to me about it,” Jon replied, a far off look of amusement gracing his face. “That was a surreal conversation.”
Nate was staring at the ground again, only this time he looked shell-shocked. “Jesus,” he finally breathed, rubbing his eyes. “I wasn’t actually expecting you to say that.”
Jon gave a half shrug, glancing at Demetri who met his eyes briefly before looking at Nate again. “What are you wanting me to do then?” Jon asked softly, looking confused.
“Well… see… I would’ve talked to Ed but, obviously, that would be awkward,” Nate explained, suddenly beginning to pace back and forth in front of the other two boys. “And then I was thinking about going to Jason but he’s about as sensitive as, well, Rob. And then I thought about talking to Sam but then she would talk to Jason and that would pretty much be like just telling Jason myself so that would defeat that purpose. And, well…” he trailed off, looking to Jon hopelessly. “You’re the only other person Rob seems to be able to stand.”
Jon sighed in resignation, picking up his threadbare backpack and hauling it onto his shoulder. “Well,” he said brusquely to Nate, tucking a half-smoked cigarette behind his ear. “Let’s see what we can do about this. Lead the way.”
“Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to
I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again”
Rob was a mess. That much was obvious.
Two weeks. Two weeks since Ed had walked out of that classroom. And every day had been worst than the last.
Rob choked back the tears as he sang pitifully along with James Taylor.
“Won't you look down upon me, Jesus
You've got to help me make a stand…”
He hugged the pillow tighter to his body, ignoring the digging feeling of his hipbone jutting into the floor underneath him as he stared at the wall in his room.
Giving up, he began to sing miserably through his tears in a choked voice:
“Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again…”
There was slight knocking on his door. “Rob?” called out a vaguely familiar voice. Rob ignored it.
“Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun,” Rob sobbed out. “Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn your head around…”
“He’s been listening to that fucking song non-stop,” he heard Nate’s voice floating in from under his door.
Rob chose to ignore this comment and instead turned up the song louder. Couldn’t he wallow in peace?
His parents had taken little notice to Rob’s foul mood as of late, ignoring him as he would stand up from the dinner table, yelling out in a sobbing voice about them not understanding pain before running up to his room to listen to James Taylor again. Nate had been the only one to pay him any attention, and that was only to shout through their conjoined wall for him to “Stop it with the James fucking Taylor already!”
But no. James understood. And therefore he was all the boy would listen to.
The song came to an end and Rob reached up, pressing play once more.
“Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone…"
“Oh my God,” he heard Nate groan in annoyance outside of the door. “Can you please try and talk some sense into him?” Who was he talking to?
“I can try,” he heard the familiar voice say. “Rob?” it called again, followed by another knock. “Rob, it’s Jon. Can I come in?”
Jon? Jon had come to see him? Why?
Only Rob didn’t care. He didn’t care about anything anymore.
“Come in,” he called desolately from the floor.
He heard the door creak open and Jon’s shoes pad across the room. “Um… Rob?”
“Behind the bed,” Rob said piteously as he reached up to mute the song. Goodbye for now, James.
Bedsprings creaked and suddenly Jon’s voice was much closer. “Comfy?” the other boy asked, sounding amused.
Rob shrugged, wincing as his shoulder dug into the carpet. “I’m fine,” he muttered, his voice muffled by the pillow.
“Really?” Jon asked kindly, the smile apparent in his voice. “You don’t really look fine.” Rob just huffed out a sigh into the carpet. “Rob…” Jon finally ventured. “What happened with Chewie?”
Rob’s mind froze. Oh dear God. Jon remembered their conversation. And had somehow cracked his code! The man was an evil genius.
Ed. His Chewie. The other boy had been avoiding him, not accepting Rob’s lame attempts at reconciliation, showing a side of stronger resolve than Rob had ever seen before. And it was killing him. He really didn’t know how to fix this.
“Han fucked up,” Rob suddenly found himself saying gravely, choking up on the last word. “He fucked up bad.”
“Oh, Rob,” Jon said quietly. The bedsprings creaked again and Rob felt a hand land on his shoulder. A helpless sob wrenched out of him. God, did he have no control whatsoever? Here he was, listening to James fucking Taylor and pining on the floor like a girl, and now he was crying! What the hell was happening to him?
“Shh,” was all Jon said, letting the other boy cry. Rob knew he must seem insane, but of course it didn’t occur to him that Jon might already think he was a bit unstable.
“I’m such a fucking pussy,” he finally sobbed out, turning on his back to look up at Jon who was sitting cross-legged on the floor. “I’m not gay,” he added vehemently.
Jon made a face, as if he somehow didn’t agree with Rob’s statement, but he then smiled kindly. “Look Rob, this isn’t unsolvable. Though, to be fair, I don’t know what exactly we’re solving.”
Rob took in a deep and shuddering breath before regarded Jon. “You’re the only one who knows,” Rob said, his voice hushed. “And he… he wants to… to tell other people…”
Jon’s eyebrows shot up and he nodded. “Ok,” he murmured patiently. “And you, uh, nixed that I take it?”
Rob nodded miserably. “I… I don’t know how to do this…” He felt the tears coming again. And then, out of nowhere, word vomit suddenly erupted from his mouth in the form of a pitiful sob: “I… I think I’m fucking in love with him which is just retarded and yet here I am, listening to James Taylor! I’m insane!”
Jon looked a little bewildered and for once Rob recognized how crazy he must be coming across. “Rob, it’s okay, just let it out…” he said uneasily, rubbing Rob’s shoulder again.
“Do you see what he’s doing to me? This isn’t fucking fair! I’m not gay!” he cried ludicrously.
“Well… to be fair Rob… if you’re in love with another dude… that at least makes you bisexual…” Jon said reasonably before wincing like he expected some sort of retaliation.
To be honest, usually Rob would have freaked out. Shouted obscenities. Thrown things. Punched people. But now… now he was just too fucking tired. And Jon was a smart guy. Oh God…
“I… I don’t know what to do anymore…” Rob suddenly gushed, looking up at Jon. Help me. Please.
Jon seemed to read his mind because he just nodded slowly. “Rob, we can fix this. You just need to be willing to, well, give in a little. Can you do that?”
Rob considered this. Could he? He actually let himself think for a moment, to really think about Ed; with his little quirky smile, the way the back of his neck turned red when he was embarrassed, the cheeky grin that would cross his face when he showed the naughty side he usually reserved for Rob alone, the way he just listened, the way he liked Rob, actually liked him, when most people found him overbearing, egocentric, and jerk-offish. The way his lips looked after they kissed. The way he would toy with Rob’s ear during one of their rare peaceful post-coital moments.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. “I think I can.”
Jon smiled and Rob felt hopeful for the first time in a few weeks. “Let’s get this bitch solved then.”
Finally, Rob grinned.
“Come in,” Nate heard his brother say pitifully as Jon disappeared into the other room. The guy was a saint, taking this on like he was.
“Come on,” Nate said quietly, shaking himself of the nagging feeling that he was copping out, that it should be him in there, listening to his brother be a prima Donna, but no. He knew Rob wouldn’t talk to him. “Let’s go to my room.”
“Nice digs,” Demetri murmured pleasantly, dropping onto the bed against the far wall. Nate took in the regulatory posters, the frog tank in the corner, the abandoned drum set and beat up television. His room was really nothing special to look at.
“Oh, thank fuck,” he sighed in relief as James Taylor’s voice was cut off mid-verse. “If I had to hear about Goddamn Suzanne one more time…” He dropped off and mimicked a machine gun firing. Demetri just smirked next to him on the bed.
“I kind of like James Taylor,” he said quietly, mischievous eyes sliding toward Nate. “He has a soothing voice.”
Nate just snorted, falling silent for a moment as the muffled voices droned unintelligibly from the other room. Suddenly, the pitch of one of the voices rose considerably, Rob’s desperate cry resonating indistinctly in the adjoining room. Nate figured that he must have made a face as he felt an overwhelming feeling of helpless, despairing anger at his brother, because Demetri knocked him in the shoulder asking, “Wanna do something?”
Nate sighed. “Like what?” he grumbled, toying with his bedspread and studiously ignoring how close Demetri’s knee was to touching his own. Demetri didn’t seem to notice at all because he stretched a bit, causing their legs to press up against each other. To his own surprise, Nate didn’t move away.
“Like…” Demetri was answering, head cocked in thought. “Play a videogame?”
Nate grunted in hesitant approval. “Which one?”
The other boy pondered this, brushing his bangs out of his eyes. Glancing over at Nate, one of his brows suddenly rose. Fuck. He was staring. Nate hastily focused elsewhere, the opportunely placed TV coming in handy.
“I don’t know,” Demetri finally responded, tapping his fingers on his upper thighs and bouncing slightly. “I’ve never been allowed to play them.”
“Are you joking?” Nate asked, his mouth falling open in disbelief. “That… that just sucks.”
“I found other ways of passing the time,” Demetri quipped, waggling his eyebrows. God, he didn’t have to make it sound so sexual. Nate felt, yet again, a blush creep up his neck.
Instead of dignifying that comment with a response, Nate slid of the bed and began going through the discs that were scattered across his floor. “Does Halo work? Well, technically it’s Halo 3, but same difference.”
Demetri shrugged; his eyes on Nate as the other boy popped the disk in and flopped back onto the bed, shoving one of the controllers into his hands. “I guess,” he responded mildly. “I don’t really have any idea what it is, but I guess I’ll catch on?”
“Okay,” Nate murmured. As the graphics popped up on the screen, he began his listless explanation, “So there’s this thing called the Covenant, right? And they’re this badass alliance of different aliens. Now they’ve taken over the Earth and, as the Master Chief, we’re going to try and rescue Cortana, who’s…”
“How?” Nate whined. “How are you so good at that? How? You’ve never even fucking played before!”
Demetri shrugged, dropping the controller to his side. “I catch on to things quickly, I guess.”
“That wasn’t just ‘catching on,’” Nate cried. “That was… that was creepy.”
“Beginner’s luck?” Demetri ventured hopefully, a playful smile on his face.
“Beginner’s luck my ass,” Nate muttered, glaring at the screen. “Is there anything you’re not good at?”
There was an uncomfortable lull as Nate realized how serious he sounded. Well… he was being serious. Demetri didn’t seem to have trouble with anything and, if Nate was honest with himself, it was frustrating.
“What do you mean?” Demetri finally asked, looking confused. Nate kicked himself for being such an ass.
“Just, well, you seem to be good at everything,” he answered, trying to be honest. “Like… school, art, life. You just never seem to be bothered by anything.” Demetri regarded him blankly. “Seriously. Is there anything you’re not good at?”
The other boy paused; looking honest-to-God contemplative and Nate fought the urge to punch him. Was it really so hard to be normal and full of faults? Nate knew he could sure as hell lend him some.
“I can’t whistle,” Demetri finally declared decisively.
“You can’t whistle?” Nate asked flatly, his incredulous tone evident.
There was a pause.
“Yeah,” Demetri nodded, “I can’t whistle.”
“That’s it?” Nate demanded, turning to face the other boy more fully. “That’s all you can think of?”
Demetri’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. “Why? Are you not good at anything?”
Nate’s mouth fell open. Wait… was that the issue? Did Demetri honestly just not think in those terms?
“I suck at loads of things!” Nate cried once he had recovered from his shock. “I mean… I can’t think of one thing I’m actually good at…” His voice dropped off as he really considered his words. It was true. He didn’t feel like he had that many strengths.
Demetri actually managed to look more confused. “Really?” he asked, his tone the incredulous one this time. “But… you’re so good with people. And quick with words. And you’re funny.” Nate just stared at him, not sure how to process this. “I’m not that good with people,” Demetri admitted, though he didn’t look too bothered. “They tend to find me ‘weird.’” He smiled pleasantly.
“I am not good with people,” Nate scoffed. “Why do you think I get my ass kicked almost every day at school?”
“Yeah, but people still seem to genuinely like you,” Demetri answered. “You do well when they give you a chance.”
Nate was stunned. He had never considered looking at himself in that way before… and realizing that someone else saw those qualities with no effort whatsoever was a striking idea. If it had been anyone else telling him this, he probably would have brushed it off as flattery or misguided kindness, but Demetri… Demetri was just plain honest in everything he did. Nate had to begrudgingly accept that.
“I… well… you…” he finally stuttered out, feeling his ears turning red. “I…”
“Nate,” Demetri answered, his voice soft and eyes kind. “Just accept it, okay? Feeling good about yourself isn’t a bad thing.”
Falling silent, Nate stared at his bedspread. “You…” he ventured after the quiet had settled like a warm and reassuring blanket over them, “you’re… you’re not weird.” He glanced up quickly to find Demetri giving him a subdued and odd smile before he dropped his eyes again. “Sure, you’re different, but not weird. Don’t think that.”
Demetri made a small noise and Nate looked up to see him grinning recklessly. “Let’s watch some TV. I’m not allowed to do that at home either.”
Sighing contentedly, Nate settled back and watched as Demetri flipped through the channels, murmuring in wonder at all the variety cable had to offer. Nate himself found little interest in the programs and instead chose to allow himself to bask in the glow of comfortable camaraderie with this unique boy. Carefully, he allowed his head to drop to Demetri’s shoulder, feeling the other boy’s cheek twitch into a smile against his hair.
Letting his eyes slip closed, Nate felt at peace for the first time in ages.
ENDNOTE: Yeah, so as usual I can't decide if I actually like this chapter or not. I was basically inspired when I heard "Fire and Rain" on the radio and got this picture in my head of Rob curled up on the floor crying to it. What is with me and making my characters cry hysterically lately? I've finally advanced the time a bit which will hopefully cause less headaches and get things moving. And don't worry, what's happened in the two week period will be covered, just in conversations rather than me having to write out every second. I'm not sure why I decided to give Demetri such a complicated background... it just sort of happened that way. Also I have no idea as to whether or not he can whistle. We can just pretend that, if he can whistle now, he learned to, like, in college or something.
As usual, comment and/or friend me because, well... I like it!
Oh... and if you want the James Taylor song, I can post it later when I have Pepito (my external hard drive).
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